Hello and welcome to the party! Thank you so much for visiting my blog. When I visit a blog for the first time, I’m always curious to learn more about the blogger and their personal ‘why’ for writing it. So, I figured there was no better topic for my first post in case any of you readers are interested.
Dyslexia is a subject near and dear to my heart, but it wasn’t always that way. In fact, I didn’t know a thing about it until about eight years ago. Prior to that time, I believed many of the common misconceptions about Dyslexia. For example, I thought Dyslexia was a vision problem that made people see things backwards, resulting in letter reversals and reading difficulties. I thought students with Dyslexia were ‘cured’ once they learned to read. And one of the worst offenders? I thought that kids who weren’t read to enough at home as young children were more likely to be dyslexic. Ugh! Fast-forward eight years and I’m embarrassed to admit I even believed any of those myths. But hey – you may believe them too and I’m here to tell you that it’s ok and there’s help for you too! (A great resource is here for you! https://www.understood.org/en/learning-attention-issues/child-learning-disabilities/dyslexia/common-myths-about-dyslexia-reading-issues)
You see, eight years ago, my oldest daughter was diagnosed with Dyslexia. I won’t bore you with the build up of events that led to our decision to have her formally assessed. I will admit that I was completely overwhelmed and flat-out shocked as we reviewed the results with the psychologist via an in-depth 30-page neuro-psychoeducational report. She explained that our daughter had a very unique learning profile, including some characteristics typical of dyslexia, dysgraphia and dyscalculia. I felt like I was listening to Charlie Brown’s teacher (womph womph womph womph womph) as she explained all of this and her recommendations for remediation and educational support moving forward. News flash: in that meeting, my husband shared that ‘he was Dyslexic when he was younger’ and asked if it was a condition that runs in families. FYI – in case you didn’t know, it does! My husband and I met in graduate school and throughout two grueling years of studying together, I never noticed any indication that he may have been dyslexic. So, I just sat there in a state of shock and awe, making my mental list for Dr. Google and thankful that I would be taking a hard-copy of all the data and findings home with me.
And that was the beginning of my research-obsession on all-things related to Dyslexia and related learning differences. I knew that at least two members of our family of five had been formally diagnosed with Dyslexia. And I quickly learned that it is a trait that prevalently runs in families, similar to the genetic trait of baldness. In fact, I learned that when one sibling has been identified with Dyslexia, other siblings have a 50/50 chance of having it as well. So this was pretty much game-on for me at this point. I was in for the long haul and I was going to learn everything I could and determine the very best ways to support my family.
But there is also another, darker side to this, and because I wanna keep it real with you people, I’m just going to put it out there. I’m still ashamed to admit how afraid I was that day when we first learned of our daughter’s diagnosis. I mean, I remember thinking ‘anything but Dyslexia’ as I imagined an uphill battle for my daughter’s entire life. I couldn’t see the forest for the trees at that point in time and all I knew was that I didn’t want that for her. I felt very alone in dealing with this as well, as I didn’t seem to know anyone at the time who was (openly) fielding the same concerns that I was. But at the same time, I was mesmerized. by my husband’s revelation, as I believed that he was one of the most intelligent, creative, talented people I’d ever come across. Still do. So how could he be so successful AND also be dyslexic?
Dr. Google came to the rescue at this point in time. Nanoseconds after typing ‘famous dyslexics’ into the search bar, I was presented with an extensive list of some of the most brilliant people in history who also happened to be dyslexic: CEOs, artists, scientists, musicians, authors, actors, politicians, designers and architects. Many of them were revolutionaries. And that got me wondering. There had to be another side to this ‘condition’…a side that often isn’t talked about or acknowledged when talking about any kind of learning difference. And it struck me as something that needed to be celebrated and honored.
When came time to tell our daughter what we had learned about how her brain worked, we turned it into a Dyslexia Celebration…a ‘party’ in the 2nd grade sense of the word. Her Dad and I took her out to a special lunch (during the school day…gasp!) complete with balloons and chocolate cake. We shared that we had learned she had one of the most unique kinds of brains possible…even the same kind of brain as her Dad (who, in second grade at least, had hero-level status). We showed her photos of some of the famous people with Dyslexia that we knew she would recognize and care about. She seemed intrigued, cautiously optimistic and possibly even a little relieved at the news. You see, all this time, I think she already knew there was something different about how she learned. She knew she was bright and creative. She knew she had a lot of special gifts and talents. She knew she was determined and an incredibly hard worker. And yet, she knew learning (in the traditional manner) was harder than it should have been for her. She was also smart enough to know this was a little secret she wanted to keep hidden.
Her intense desire to keep this secret led me to more intensely focus on reasons why she shouldn’t. Let’s face it. Most kids don’t want to be different, regardless of the way it’s presented to them. I understood that. I also had to admit that, as her parent, I felt the same way and I wasn’t sure why. Over the last eight years, I’ve come to realize what a powerful driver fear can be in shaping life experience, especially fear of the unknown.
As a parent navigating the world of ‘learning differences’ for the first time, I wished for a safe place where I could connect with other families undergoing similar discovery and experiences. I wanted a place to share knowledge, ideas, research and stories of hope. I wanted to be there to nurture and empower other parents, so they would know that they were not alone and that there is a place they can turn to for support. My hope is that this blog can be one of those places for you.
Check out: Dyslexia Awareness Month